Toronto: A World Within A City

27 February 2016
Read Time: 2.2 mins

It doesn’t matter what language you speak, there is every chance you will be understood in Canada’s largest city.

Known for its diversity and multicultural approach to life, at last count there were more than 100 languages spoken on Toronto's streets and in its bars.

Locals say there are 140 official neighbourhoods that make up the city, which sits on the Canada/USA border just 837 kilometres from Chicago, 790 kilometres from New York and 370 kilometres from Detroit.

Toronto Distillery District Grab a drink and soak up the history in Toronto's Distillery District (Image: Getty)

Just some of the neighbourhoods worth visiting include: Little Italy; Greektown; Chinatown; The Annex (which has the TRANZAC - Toronto, Australia, New Zealand Club); Church & Wellesley (LGBT); Distillery District (fancy a drink?); Fashion District; Financial District, Queen St W (funky little shops); The Beaches; Little Portugal; Little Tibet; Koreatown.

With so many varied areas, Toronto has an amazing experimental food culture, boasting too many restaurants to count. It's impossible to try them all, but you can find almost any combination of flavour, country or style imaginable.

Five of the top restaurants garnering recent attention are:

  • Buca Yorkville (seafood)
  • DandyLion (Nordic trends, a little Canuck and plenty of Susur)
  • Yasu (only 13 seats and the chef Yasuhisa Ouchi worked at Nobu in Melbourne)
  • DaiLo (vintage tea house)
  • Boralia (historical Canadian Cuisine – think pigeon pie).

When it comes to festivals, Toronto's one of the popular kids. There is always something going on, especially in summer with major events such as Toronto Pride; Caribana (Caribbean Festival); The Ex; the Indy Race; TIFF; music festivals; Nuit Blanche for abstract art; and Winterlicious, Summerlicious and Taste of the Danforth for the foodies.

Taste of the Danforth Meats barbecued to perfection at the Taste of the Danforth festival in Toronto (Image: Getty)

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Taste of the Danforth is Canada’s largest street festival (1.6 million people attend every year) and it has been going for more than 21 years.

Toronto's strong links to the Caribbean are on display during Caribana, now in its 48th year. Originally a three-day event, this year’s festival in July/August will last almost three weeks with one million people are expected to attend.

However, this impressive city is not just about food and festivals. It's also a proud sporting town with professional basketball (Toronto Raptors), hockey (Toronto Maple Leafs), baseball (Toronto Blue Jays) and football (Toronto Argos).

In North America, sport is played on an even bigger and brighter stage. Even if you don’t like the game, you can sit back and enjoy the amazing entertainment on show.

The Raptors are currently riding high in the NBL’s Eastern Conference, and experts say their lightning-quick back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the reason crowds are booming this season.

 Air Canada Centre See the Toronto Raptors in action at Air Canada Centre (Image: Wikipedia)

Toronto is also an easy place to get around, thanks mainly to the ingenious PATH system, which is an underground walkway linking 30 kilometres of shopping, services and entertainment.

It’s listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest underground shopping complex. Even locals say it’s the perfect place to get lost (literally!).

It's amazing in winter, sheltering you from the cold and snow. If your destination is too far to walk, you can always catch a subway to the north and south of the PATH.

Don’t forget to discover one of my ultimate favourite getaway spots: the Toronto Islands (and not just for the clothing-optional beach!)

It's perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle to watch life from afar. Bring a book. Rent a bike. Take a stroll. Have a picnic. Admire the cute cottages and dream of one day owning one.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Toronto.

Brian Crisp

I've has been a journalist for more than 30 years and travelled to more than 60 countries. When I travel I love getting lost because that's when you find the true heart of a city. I love country music, but as yet I haven't made it to Nashville. Perhaps next year!